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The saga of Drokki Hirndour (Part 3)


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#1 Orcslicer

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 10:09 AM

Read parts one and two of the saga of Drokki Hirndour before you read this or you miss half the story. Sorry in advance for the length – I suppose I got a bit carried away. Oh, and as its taking [warhammertag83]ME[/warhammertag83] so long to write i've taken a leaf out of Dorin Ironbeard's book and will be posting it in more managable strips every few weeks. Feel free to give [warhammertag83]ME[/warhammertag83] any feedback on what i've written, and enjoy.....

Dorin Skalflinson smashed his hammer into the stomach of a plague monk, who doubled up in pain wheezing on the muddied ground. As Dorin brought his hammer down on its robed head the retreat was sounded down the line, its echoes reverberating around the valley. Obediently many dwarves broke off the fight from the front line fighting, but most were unable to outrun agile ratmen pursuing them as they fled. These dwarves were brought to the ground, their blood mingling with the silt laden rainwater that was trickling down the valley. Dorin’s Ironbreakers began to fall back to the reserve line, but Dorin ordered them to hold, motioning for his dwarves to spread out, mingling with a score of slayers, the only other unit showing no signs of breaking off. Without their efforts the retreating dwarf regiments would be isolated and destroyed before they could reform.

The majority of the skaven host was held in place by the thin line of slayers and ironbreakers, as the rest of the dwarves pulled back off the field, to the entrance of the great forge, just east of their broken hold. There they would make their last desperate defence from the oncoming horde. Grogar Morgrimson busied himself organising the units back into coherent formation, ignoring the horrendous shrieks of the rat ogres as they and the slayers tore each other apart with equal ferocity. Satisfied that the new shield wall was ready Grogar ordered thane Grimbeard to take temporary command of the force. Grogar made his way further into the forge, deciding to check the safety of the king. Some distance inside, behind several experimental steam powered smelters [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] found two of his fellow hammerers standing guard over king Drokki, who was propped up on a worktop, being examined by a young female dwarf healer. As Grogar approached Drokki’s eyes snapped open, taking in the grimy soot covered surfaces of the forge along with its unpleasant sulphurous smell. Pushing aside the healer rather more roughly than [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] perhaps [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] intended, he picked up his rune encrusted axe fully alert and irritable. “Grogar make you report, how long have I been unconscious? And what’s our situation? He demanded, striding heavily towards the entrance of the forge, eager to rejoin battle. “My lord… are y’ alright? What happened out there, what caused yer collapse?” Spluttered Grogar genuinely surprised by the king’s almost immediate recovery. Drokki made no reply, his hand straying to his side, where his ornate hunting horn hung. Subdued momentarily, he shook his head gently and focused on Grogar. “Grogar please…” Drokki said urgently, “answer my questions and then go and find Vungar Gotrason, I need his council…” As [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] continued to reel off orders [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] turned to look at the skaven horde, behind the dwindling numbers of slayers and ironbreakers the skaven grey seer appeared to be holding a similar council with his subordinates. Drokki scowled, vowing to himself that given the chance [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] would slay the foul creature.

Another clanrat fell to Dorin’s hammer, falling to the ground like a sack of pipeweed. Rushing past Dorin’s left side a group of three slayers hurled themselves into a rat ogre, embedding axes into its leathery torso. Bellowing with rage the monster slashed a pair of rusted claws cruelly implanted as an extension of the brute’s arm, which appeared to have been torn off at the elbow during a previous encounter. The swing tore one slayer clean in half, spraying the rat ogre with gore. Following up with unnatural speed it brought down its teeth on the head of another of its assailants, severing the dwarf’s head from its body. As it began to rear up to strike the final slayer, the slayer’s axe connected with the thick armour plated skull cap on its head. Fragments of skull flew from the rats head, as it reared up dazed, a gurgling escaped from its throat and its eyes narrowed, trying to focus on its assailant. After moments it fell forward, lifeblood leaking out of its mangled head. Dead. Casually, the slayer turned to face Dorin, nodding politely before returning to the melee. Dorin saw no remorse over his dead fellows, or fear of its enemy, only a deep hatred emanating from the slayers eyes. By now only a handful of his faithful ironbreakers were left, and the skaven were encircling them. Turning in a full circle Dorin realised that they had no escape. The skaven began to close in, the diameter of the circle reducing rapidly. Anger surged through Dorin; he would make his stand here for the hold. Raising his hammer high above his head and letting out a mighty war cry, he threw himself at the hordes of ratmen. Within moments skaven pressed against him on all sides, his hammer swung out one last time and connected with the skull of an unfortunate clanrat. Seconds later the hammer fell limp from his grasp, and Dorin lay dead, blood seeping from between the plates in his armour.

***

Several miles behind the hold entrance, along a smaller pass once used by dwarf tradesmen heading south from Zhufbar, all was quiet. Little grew in the scree covered mountains, so there was not much wildlife to make any noise. The rustle of the wind blowing through sparse patches of mountain grass, and the gentle bleating from a wild mountain goat were the only noises audible from the crest of the hill. The young goat froze, its ears picking up the tramping of a hundred boots marching down the pass. Balik Greymane marched at the head of the dwarf column, eyes scanning the lower hillside. Behind him, many other dwarf eyes followed suit, all of them wary of attack. The dwarves watching the pass had spotted the outflanking force almost at this exact spot, and no sighting of the skaven had been reported since. Balik was inwardly nervous, he suspected an ambush, but that would make no logical sense. The skaven were probably sent to attack the rear of the dwarf line, meaning they would march through the pass with speed. But the mouth of the pass was eerily quite, and the dwarves had marched through the narrow winding corridors of rock without event.

As the dwarves reached the hilltop Balik ordered a halt. Turning to Barin, another longbeard, and close friend of Balik’s, he spoke “Barin what knowledge do ye have of this area, could the skaven have found a way roun’ us?” As Barin opened his mouth to reply, another longbeard, Boki, interrupted. “Balik, over there’s an older outlet tunnel from the mines, ‘tis the only other way through the mountains in these parts.” As [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] spoke [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] motioned toward a sandy embankment, up which a broken cobble pathway ran on a winding trail. Although built many hundreds of years before to ease the exports of copper ore from the mines, it had remained derelict for some time. Trade had dried up in the area since the recent end of the goblin wars, many of the neighbouring holds either destroyed or isolated.

On closer inspection it became clear that the skaven had passed along this trail. Balik noted the overturned dust and crushed plants. “At least this means [warhammertag132]WE[/warhammertag132]’re facing ratmen, and nothing nastier” Balik thought to himself. Years ago [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] had fought hand to hand with the elite skaven known as Gutter runners. Swift, silent and stealthy, armed with weapons dripping with a pulsating green liquid. Balik’s side gave an involuntary spasm, as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] remembering the excruciating pain of the balanced throwing dagger that had speared his side all those years ago. He had no desire to repeat the encounter, which would’ve killed him if not for the efforts of dwarven healers. As the dwarves marched briskly inside the mine outlet, it became clear that the skaven had passed this way. Among the damp, mossy boulders that surrounded the entrance of the mine the smell of decay became almost unbearable, the tunnel felt more claustrophobic that it really was. Although once a place of cheerful industry, the gnarled wooden props that held up the walls inside the tunnel gave the impression of a need for solitude. The place was foreboding. Certain that the skaven were attempting to attack from the winding underground passageways that lead to the great forges, Balik resignedly ordered his longbeards to begin the descent into the mines, the rest of the clansmen following reluctantly in their wake.

***

Vungar Gotrason was an ancient and venerable Runelord. His beard draped around his body several times, coloured a brilliant white in stark contrast with his contoured face. He stood quietly, surrounded by his accompanying unit of clansmen. For the moment the grey seer leading the assault against the hold had used little magic against the dwarfs. Vungar did not expect this to last, as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] watched the twisted wizard organizing his horde for the final assault, blasting the skaven infantry who were slower in getting into position with green lightning.

He shook his head, taken aback by the cruelty of the seer, who was now gesticulating wildly at a skaven chieftain who appeared to be reluctant to move his unit into position. Vungar turned round at the sound of clanking armour, and found himself facing Grogar. “King Drokki seeks yer council Vungar, will y’ allow [warhammertag83]ME[/warhammertag83] to escort y’ to him?” asked Grogar, staring into the Runelord’s eyes. They were dark, and gave a sense of great depth, deep pools of wisdom. Vungar nodded curtly, following the stocky hammerer as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] made his way back through the regiment of clansmen.

A few minutes later Vungar approached Drokki, greeting him courteously. Drokki responded in a whisper, turning to make sure Grogar was not listening in. Somewhat hastily Grogar averted his eyes, feigning interest in polishing his axe. From his distance [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] couldn’t hear what Drokki was so keen discuss. Irritated, he watched the pair out of the corner of his eye. Drokki was speaking quickly and urgently, holding up his hunting horn for Vungar to examine. Vungar’s eyes widened as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] listened to what Drokki was saying, as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] ran a hand over the glowing runes on the horn. He spoke a few more moments with the anxious king, returning the horn to his side.

Grogar was distracted from this curious discussion by a crackling bolt of green lightning, emanating from the distant seer’s outstretched arm as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] signalled the advance of the skaven forces. Vungar, distracted from his discussion with the king could not summon the magical energy required to dispel the streak of lightning that jarred into the dwarven shieldwall, carving through several ranks of clansmen. Pools of metal were all that remained to mark the path of the bolt, the dwarves inside incinerated into mere ash. As one the skaven horde began to advance towards the dwarven lines, Grey seer screeching orders from amidst his stormvermin. Grogar looked back at Drokki and Vungar, who had separated and were resuming their places in their units. As Vungar walked past Grogar looking strained, he called across to Drokki “Do not attempt the third summoning unless you have no choice, I am old and little knowledge of such unusual runic scripts, but my instincts tell [warhammertag83]ME[/warhammertag83] that great and uncontrollable evil could be unleashed if it goes wrong.” Grogar turned to watch Drokki’s reaction, but saw him give only the slightest of nods as recognition to what Vungar had said. Grogar pondered on what [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] had overheard for a few moments, before coming too his senses. Pushing the thoughts to the back of his mind, he joined Drokki in the front rank of his hammerers, watching in silence the final skaven assault unfolded…

#2 Durgrim Ironbeard

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 11:07 AM

Brilliantly written. Really good. grin.png

I want to hear more. You have a really distinct, descriptive writting style. Makes it good reading! tongue.gif

I like all the fluff surrounding the horn and respect shown properly to the elder dwarves and king! As it should be!

PS - In the prelogue type bit, did you mean you'd take a leaf out of Durgrim Ironbeard's (me) book? tongue.gif laugh.gif

#3 Magni Flamebeard

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 11:41 AM

Another awesome section. Between you and young Durgrim, Grimgar shall never be bored!

#4 Orcslicer

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 11:48 AM

Yes Durgrim your book, well list of posts anyway! grin.png :shock:

Thanks for the comments? Anyone else have somthing to say?

#5 Durgrim Ironbeard

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 12:03 PM

laugh.gif Glad to keep you entertained Grimgar! tongue.gif

Your writting is really good Orcslicer. I definately want to hear more and more about Drokki. I can tell you spend mor etime on your stories than [warhammertag83]ME[/warhammertag83]! :oops:

Writting them in smaller bits makes it a lot easier too!

#6 Bran Irongrip

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 02:45 PM

Only three bits huh? I think there's at least one more installment in this sory before it's done...at least I hope so! Top stuff grin.png

#7 Durgrim Ironbeard

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 02:56 PM

Your not the only one that hopes so Bran. I do too! grin.png

Orcslicer, you must write more! The fans demand it! tongue.gif laugh.gif

#8 Orcslicer

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 03:07 PM

Or two more bits. Depends how long it takes to write, i only spend 10mins a day on it...

And i may always do another one! Thanks for the comments everyone grin.png

#9 Burlok Blackaxe

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 08:16 AM

Sweet jebus this just gets better and better with every addition great work my friend great work

#10 Magni Flamebeard

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 08:46 AM

I must admit that story nearly inspired [warhammertag83]ME[/warhammertag83] to write another Grimgar tale...

#11 Maxxev

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 01:33 PM

come on whats with the horn.. this has got [warhammertag83]ME[/warhammertag83] curious

#12 Orcslicer

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 02:46 PM

hehehe you'll have to read the rest when i post it! (to be honest i havent actually decided yet grin.png )

#13 Rik Riorik

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 02:50 PM

Will have to pop by here once I'm done with Durgrim's lot. The Brewery hasn't seen such output for a long time. There is fluff in the air, and you can quote [warhammertag83]ME[/warhammertag83] on that one!

#14 Durgrim Ironbeard

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 03:24 PM

Rik is reading my lot at the moment. Quite a bit of stuff to read. laugh.gif Which i'm glad [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56]'s doing!

Fluff in the air? That must be coming off all the skaven corpses that were produced in battle at Karaz Grong! tongue.gif

But in all seriousness, i think this site has some exellent fluff and story writing. Orcslicer and Grimgar are putting together some great stuff.
I did notice a guy by the name of Kar Graveanvil had written some really good stuff too, but doesnt seem to have been around since i joined this forum!

#15 Magni Flamebeard

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 09:06 AM

Hey Rik try and read a couple of my stories! Of course you'll have to get comfy if you wanna finish reading them in one sitting...

#16 Orcslicer

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 09:19 AM

Dont be too modest Durgrim, your inputting some serious fluff too!

#17 Durgrim Ironbeard

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 09:57 AM

Well my stuff is written pretty quickly. Think my latest instalment is the best so far, but yours and Grimgar's is better written i feel. tongue.gif

#18 Orcslicer

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 11:09 AM

The stench grew steadily worse as Balik descended through the winding tunnels. The skaven were easy to track, their putrid, disease ridden bodies left a distinctive trail from the rest of the musky passageways. The tunnel eventually joined a much larger passage, as did many other tunnels either side of it. The passage was obviously from the times of the golden age, every cobble hand carved with meticulous detail, and the walls decorated with elaborate arches and pillars. Balik found it difficult to focus on the skaven trail, in awe of the beautiful craftsmanship that once was produced by his own clan. This vast catacomb network would once have been the centre of the mine workings that built the hold and established its wealthy status. In those golden days all the dwarven holds would be connected in a crisscrossing web of networked tunnels. All that changed during the war of vengeance, which began the bitter decline of the dwarves, the hold was worse affected during the time of the goblin wars where the skaven and goblins attacked the holds en masse. For their part the skaven would pay dearly, thought Balik, and the sooner the better.

Stiffening in resolve Balik’s longbeards reached the dilapidated doors at the end of the passage. Balik motioned for silence, as through its rotting timber frame the skittering of the intruding skaven could be heard. “Boki, take a look thr’ some of these side chambers. See if ye can find any other entrances to yon room, and for Grungi’s sake do it quietly.” Balik ordered in a gravely whisper.

As Boki slipped off into the shadows with surprising stealth for one of his stature and age, Balik removed his helmet, allowing his matted white hair to cascade down his face. Placing his head against the door, he listened intently. The faint sounds of hammering and chipping met his ears, but the individual voices of the skaven were indiscernible. Pressing his ear even harder against the rotting wood [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] began to make out some of the high pitched chatter of the skaven nearest the door. At that moment a spider crawled into his ear, startling him and causing him to collapse to the floor. Cursing to himself [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] stood up, ignoring the muffled sniggers from some of his companions.

At that precise moment Boki returned, sidling back into the room as quietly as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] left. Coughing slightly to get Balik’s attention [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] looked round at the Longbeards leading the congregation of dwarves, all of whom were still expressing signs of amusement at Balik’s mishap. Balik turned to Boki with as much dignity as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] could muster, and asked “Well Boki, did ye find any other entrances?” Boki shook his head sullenly. Balik sighed to himself. This meant a direct approach for dealing with the Skaven. “Well lads, looks like its time to settle some grudges” he said, slowly drawing his great axe from his back. With an unsubtle bravado [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] charged the door yelling the battle cry of the hold, barrelling through the splintering frame into the room beyond, the rest of the dwarves following fervently behind.

***
Grey seer Arquel smiled cruelly, watching his minions charge into the dwarven wall. So far the dwarven resistance had been fierce, the loss of his expensive rat ogres being irksome, but they like the entire horde, were dispensable. Only Arquel himself was irreplaceable, and [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] intended to stay well out of harms way.

The sea of vermin enveloped the entrance to the great forge, unable to penetrate the thinning dwarven line. Arquel was unconcerned, time and numbers would break these dwarves, as they always did. This was admittedly the most challenging resistance [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] had met in a long time, each dwarf fighting like a madman. The leaders of the army in particular were causing heavy losses, boldly hewing scores of the clanrats in all directions. The skaven chieftains, Arquel noticed were all keeping well out of range of these fearsome fighters, preferring to lead from the back of their regiments. “Cowards”, thought Arquel.

After several minutes the skaven charge had lost its impetus and began to falter. Arquel seeing the troops waver sent several warp-lightning bolts into the back of the clanrats “encouraging” them to stay and fight. Inevitably, the skaven broke anyway, retreating to a safe distance and milling around while the snarling chieftains bullied the ratmen into formations again. Arquel sighed exasperated; he would have to help his servants if they were to break through the shield wall any time soon. Scoffing a warpstone chunk and raising staff in what [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] hoped was an inspiring way, he moved to join the clanrats.
Arquel wondered to himself vaguely if Liskit’s clumsy night runners had managed to infiltrate the mineshafts. His hired gutter-runners were sure to have navigated the underground labyrinths and if Liskit followed his orders properly they should be tunnelling up into the forge behind the entrapped dwarves together. Surrounded, they would be massacred. Arquel inwardly congratulated himself on his plan, soon [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] would be prising the hammerhorn from the dwarf-things leader’s dead fingers.

***
Balik barrelled into the chamber beyond the door. It was a magnificent shrine to the ancestor gods, monolithic statues dominating the chamber. The walls were a continuous pattern of alcoves, each with a tomb in which a fallen dwarf hero was lain to rest. Balik took in none of this, as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] sprinted down the length of the room, eyes fixed on the scores of skaven at the other end of the tunnel. There, a weathered serpentine staircase wound majestically out of the chamber, abruptly halting nearly halfway up, where the cavernous ceiling had caved in. On the stairs, a group of skaven were excavating a hole in the wall, the sound of crumbling rock echoing round the chamber, and below them a sea of ratmen waiting impatiently at its base.

Many heads turned to the sound of the dwarven charge, their eyes widening as they began to scrabble backwards up the stairs, none wanting to face the charging dwarves. Balik and his dwarves covered the last few paces over the cracked tile floor, slamming into the skaven like a hammer unto an anvil. Fur bodies were tossed across the shrine as the dwarves lashed out mercilessly, repaying the skaven in blood for their grudges against the hold.

Balik swung his great axe in a sweeping arc, decapitating two skaven with one stroke. He glanced quickly round the room, watching the skaven cornered and fighting for their worthless lives. The skaven numbers now equalled that of the dwarves, they stood no chance. Balik parried another cutlass thrust from a skaven, its blade shattering under the blow. It snarled in pain from the jarring weapon, before collapsing transfixed, Balik’s axe in its throat. A fluttering in the corner of Balik’s eye caught his attention, and [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] turned to his side searching for the source. There stood Boki, immobile. His face one of shock, without a change of expression his head slid to the ground, his corpse remained upright for a moment later before too falling to the floor. Balik ran to the fallen longbeard’s side, sighing and bowing his head in respect. The din of battle subsided in his mind, mere echoes in his mind. He looked closely at the wound, suspicious. The wound had resealed itself, as if the weapon that slew him were red hot. Eyes widening with realisation [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] raised his axe above his head by instinct, deflecting a sudden blow from behind that would have otherwise have had him sharing Boki’s fate.

He turned quickly, spinning to his feet in one fluid motion. He faced the black muzzle of a jet black skaven garbed in a flowing cloak, which seemed to suck the very light from the air around them. Its eyes, burning red coals quickly lost their surprise at the skill of the aged dwarf, and it danced gracefully out of range. Raising its fighting claws and lowering its body weight slightly [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] eyed the dwarf coldly. “You will all die-die dwarf-thing. Mighty seer Arquel will get his prize, and Liskit will be rewarded above all others. Clan Eshin reward the strong” Spoke the skaven in the common tongue, its eyes gleaming. Balik didn’t reply, instead [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] jabbed forward with his axe, attempting to butt the skaven in the face. Quick as lightning the skaven danced round the blade and stabbed across the dwarf’s side. Although Balik managed to bring his axe backward and shatter the claw, the attack penetrated his armour, ripping into his side as it broke away. Pain exploded in Balik’s side as the poison on the assassin’s blade spread.

It stood over Balik in triumph, crooning in his ear “The dwarf-things should not dare have challenged the mighty skaven. Soon all the dwarf-things will be dead and Liskit will have control…” Balik ignored the assassin completely, as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] fought against the poison numbing his senses. With one last effort [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] smashed his armoured hand into the skaven’s knees, causing it to topple forward. The skaven lashed about desperately as Balik latched onto its throat and squeezed. He felt the cartilage snap under his gauntlets as the darkness took him, his mind swirling as [warhammertag56]HE[/warhammertag56] crashed to the floor.

#19 Magni Flamebeard

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 11:19 AM

Awesome stuff Orcslicer. I think I might have a thing or two to learn from you yet!

#20 Durgrim Ironbeard

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 11:43 AM

:shock: Very well written indeed.
Your best work so far i'd say.

Though its sadening to hear the demise of one dwarf, let alone many. But i'm sure the skaven will pay.




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